HAMMOND, LA.- Every 30 seconds, somebody becomes a victim of human trafficking, according to the A21 Campaign website. The campaign, which is a global advocate against human trafficking, has inspired the new Southeastern Louisiana University organization “Lions Against Trafficking” (LAT).
“The main purpose of ‘Lions Against Trafficking’ is to raise awareness of human trafficking on campus and in the community,” said Laura Langberg, a business administration sophomore and the president of LAT. “Once we raise awareness our goal is then to provide productive and meaningful ways to fight human trafficking. Some activities we have done as an organization have been to volunteer to help build a local human trafficking rescue shelter, participate in the A21 Campaign global event Key2Free, raised awareness by tabling in the student union, and tabled at other events such as the Pumpkin Patch 5k held by TraffickingHope.”
Langberg, along with Melissa Adcock, a sophomore English education major, and Taylor Watson, a sophomore majoring in early childhood education, started “Lions Against Trafficking” at the start of the fall 2012 semester.
“You can get involved in this fight against human trafficking in many ways,” said LAT co-founder Watson. “First students can be aware of what’s going on. This isn’t something that’s going on in a third world country. This issue is right here in Baton Rouge. By being aware and telling others, that’s the biggest difference you can make.”
To join LAT, Southeastern students need only fill out a membership form and attend at least one meeting. LAT meetings will be held every other school week two days a week starting February 5 and 6 in Fayard Hall at 5:00 p. m. Membership is free to all students.
“We have two meetings a week to help with conflicting schedules, so that if a student can’t make it Tuesday, Wednesday is an option,” said Langberg. “I believe that every campus needs an anti-human trafficking organization. LAT is needed to raise awareness of the social injustice that happens every day in our back yards. Trafficking is a real issue that doesn’t just happen in Paris to white American tourists. It happens in every country in every town, to every ethnicity and to every age. I am involved with LAT because it is so needed and my only regret is that I can’t do more. This is a cause that everyone can get behind, and I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t.”
Students involved in LAT will have the opportunity to help spread awareness of human trafficking to the local community. This semester the organization looks to hold even more fundraising events.
“For the semester we hope to host a 5k in mid-March to raise funds for the A21 Campaign, a global anti-human trafficking organization,” said Langberg. “Some long-term goals are to have the whole student body and community educated about human trafficking and to make sure that this organization continues to thrive for years to come.”
Another thing that LAT urges students to do is plug the Polaris Project number, 1-888-373-7888, in their phone, and if they see any suspicious behavior around them they can call it.
“I am personally involved in this organization because I have the power to do something,” said Zachary Gerard, a nursing sophomore and vice president of LAT. “I can’t sit back for too long knowing that girls and boys are going through such harsh treatment. It’s torture for them. How dare I not take notice? It’s our time to make history, and I intend on not letting this horrible crime pass into my children’s generation as a serious problem.”